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Michael Bradley
Michael Bradley,
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 1066
Experience:  Owner at The Protection Group LLC
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I signed a lease agreement 5/30/2016 and in the lease it

Customer Question

i signed a lease agreement 5/30/2016 and in the lease it says the landlord will withhold the security deposit for 30 days after moving out and provide an accounting of what was withheld for 60 days. Does my signing this void what state law requires of returning the deposit with explanation of what was withheld by 21 days? I wasn't aware of what of the law at the time I signed the lease. This is in the city of seattle
JA: Because laws vary from place to place, can you tell me what state the property is in?
Customer: seattle,wa
JA: What are the terms of the lease? Any issues related to maintenance or upkeep?
Customer: 12 month lease but I was asked to leave earlier as my landlord wanted to raise my rent by $1200 or sell the condominium which he owns. In the lease it stated the deposit will be held until 30 days after the tenant vacates and a written explanation of deductions within 60 days but accordding to city of seattle tenant landlord law it states 21 days
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: I left the home very clean and vacated 10 days earlier than the terms of my lease. He states I left the place dirty and there was damage. The wooden floor did sustain a 6" long x 1/2' wide and 1/8 deep gouge from my couch leg. I also had painting holes up on the walls and holes near the window from hanging curtains the landlord did not provide in the bedrooms. There was also damage to a door and doorframe but that was because my landlord changed the hardware on the door and the screws were to small and fell out making the door fall off the hinge. it took several weeks for someone to fix it and it had to be fixed twice. I was toldby the repair person because my landlord had changed the fixtures it invalidated the warranty. My landlord wants to blame me for the damage. I notified him in a timely manner that the door was a problem.
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Michael Bradley replied 3 months ago.

he has to show you proof of the damage and the cost of repair.

you can certainly sue for the return of your deposit especially if they have not given you a detailed explanation as to the repairs and the cost. You could also argue that under the terms of the lease the notice requirements were illegal and that they were longer than what Seattle's law were. That is actually an interesting argument since the lease was much longer than what the law allows. I do think a judge would have sympathy on you with regards ***** ***** timing. However, I think the bigger argument is what they are claiming is the damage and what needs to be repaired. Of course, it is expected that there would be normal wear and tear when someone lives at the property and that is to be expected. If you are not satisfied, then I would certainly file suit against him and landlord tenant court to get your deposit back.

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
I would think state law would prevail and that he violated the law by including in the lease his 30 days to return the deposit and 60 days to show why funds were withheld according to
RCW 59.18.280
Moneys paid as deposit or security for performance by tenant—Statement and notice of basis for retention—Remedies for landlord's failure to make refund.
(1) Within twenty-one days after the termination of the rental agreement and vacation of the premises or, if the tenant abandons the premises as defined in RCW 59.18.310, within twenty-one days after the landlord learns of the abandonment, the landlord shall give a full and specific statement of the basis for retaining any of the deposit together with the payment of any refund due the tenant under the terms and conditions of the rental agreement.
(a) No portion of any deposit shall be withheld on account of wear resulting from ordinary use of the premises.
(b) The landlord complies with this section if the required statement or payment, or both, are delivered to the tenant personally or deposited in the United States mail properly addressed to the tenant's last known address with first-class postage prepaid within the twenty-one days.
(2) If the landlord fails to give such statement together with any refund due the tenant within the time limits specified above he or she shall be liable to the tenant for the full amount of the deposit. The landlord is also barred in any action brought by the tenant to recover the deposit from asserting any claim or raising any defense for retaining any of the deposit unless the landlord shows that circumstances beyond the landlord's control prevented the landlord from providing the statement within the twenty-one days or that the tenant abandoned the premises as defined in RCW 59.18.310. The court may in its discretion award up to two times the amount of the deposit for the intentional refusal of the landlord to give the statement or refund due. In any action brought by the tenant to recover the deposit, the prevailing party shall additionally be entitled to the cost of suit or arbitration including a reasonable attorneys' fee.
(3) Nothing in this chapter shall preclude the landlord from proceeding against, and the landlord shall have the right to proceed against a tenant to recover sums exceeding the amount of the tenant's damage or security deposit for damage to the property for which the tenant is responsible together with reasonable attorneys' fees.
Expert:  Michael Bradley replied 3 months ago.

I agree with your interpretation but it could be argued that parties can agree to longer time period but not a shorter time frame. In law school they explain that you can go above the floor but remain below the ceiling.

That is why I suggest filing suit that he violated the law but he will argue that the lease gave him more time. I am not saying he is correct just that he can make the argument.

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
I would think that he would have to legally notify me that the extended terms are not in alignment with state law and that I would have to voluntarily agree to such an extension.
Expert:  Michael Bradley replied 3 months ago.

No, I do not think he would be legally bound to notify you that.
Was the lease a standard form or was is something that he drafted on his own?

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
It looks like something he drafted on his own.
Expert:  Michael Bradley replied 3 months ago.

I think that gives you a stronger standing to have the Seattle law apply as opposed to his lease. If it ever did go to court, I would certainly argue the fact that he wrote this lease up on his own which is not compliant with Seattle law and he did not disclose to you that it was not compliant with Seattle law. I could see a judge buying that argument and agreeing with you and releasing your deposit. It is something worth exploring if you do decide to sue for your deposit back.

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Thank you. I did find that the landlord cannot put terms in the lease which waived any rights the Landlord - tenant act gives me. So RCW 59.18.230. (2) (a)
Expert:  Michael Bradley replied 3 months ago.

As I said, I like the argument.

I would sue and he should not have a defense since the time has passed.

Expert:  Michael Bradley replied 3 months ago.

Please rate my advice. While I do not do this for the ratings, my compensation is tied to the rating system.

Thank you.

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